College basketball analysts – English-as-a- second-language specialists – surround us. It’s an oratory revolution out there, and the rebel strongholds are CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV, which have unleashed a swarm of linguistic hooligans as part of March Madness, the sensory-overload wreckage that darkens our once-proud nation of 46 states, four commonwealths and the District of Columbia.
In broad daylight, they invade our homes. They speak in a language that both mimics English and mocks English, and they improbably vacillate between the obvious and obfuscation. They talk nonsense, ignore common sense and, eventually, obliterate all sense and senses.
One of the more well-spoken of the jock commentators is Len Elmore. He litters his game analysis with words such as “lexicon,” “pirouette,” “byproduct,” “posterior,” “judiciously,” “prowess,” “onslaught,” “perilously” and “admonishment.” But it’s just sweeter-smelling manure he’s shoveling into our Sony HDs.
(Incidentally, I only write about college basketball analysts every two years or so, following doctor’s orders. Any more often, he says, and I’d self- immerse into my sofa cushions.)
(By the way, over on the play-by- play end of the booth, is it my imagination, or has every down-to-the-buzzer NCAA tournament game since 2006 been called by Gus Johnson?)
Here now, an actual sampling of actual comments by actual analysts the past two weekends:
“They could really make some hay at the free-throw line if they can knock down the charity tosses they get.” (Clark Kellogg) Basically, making foul shots is a good idea.
“Tremendous instincts – he knows where he is at all times.” (Kellogg) I’ll say this: When you don’t know where you are, you’re at a huge disadvantage.
“Look at these shooters – they know where to spot up, reload and knock ’em down.” (Jim Spanarkel) When shooters are open, they shoot.
“The best part of that play for me is not that he stole it but how he stole it.” (Spanarkel) I’ve always said the same thing about the James Brothers’ robbery of the Daviess County Savings Association in Gallatin, Mo., in 1869.
“Look at that find. Look at that find! Are you kidding me?!?! This guy’s got eyes in the front and the back of his head and the sides as well.” (Bob Wenzel, after a good pass) Quite a find for Wenzel: A player with three – no, FOUR – sets of eyes.
“Get those puppies organized and drill ’em!” (Bill Raftery) This is standard Rafter-ese for saying, “Get your feet set and shoot!”
“Big-time snatch! Aggressive, with the second hand under it. Secure it!!!” (Raftery) This one’s been sent out for lab testing; results are pending.
“Nice rearrangement around the tin!” (Raftery) Uh huh.
“A little dab will do ya.” (Raftery) I’m taking reader guesses here.
“All business all the time down there on that box.” (Kellogg) Occasionally, players will make personal calls down there on that box; one of my AAU teammates used to play Tetris down there on that box.
“Kept that dribble alive until he found the crevice he needs.” (Kellogg) To be honest with you – from my own experience – it’s easier to find the crevice you need if you’re not dribbling.
“He doesn’t Velcro it – the ball does not stick in his hand.” (Kellogg) Once in a while, Kellogg will attempt to explain his own comments to the viewer immediately.
“He had the arms of an orangutan, the heart of a lion and the bounceability of a trampoline.” (Kellogg, on Charles Barkley’s rebounding skills) Kellogg, I believe, has the rhetoricability of a delusional auctioneer.
“Totally depleted. And discouraged.” (Kellogg, on Tennessee) Like us during March Madness.
Ask The Slouch
Q. Why does March Madness continue into April? (Max Herz; Pittsburgh)
A. As you may recall, the Hundred Years’ War began in 1337 and ended in 1453. Stuff runs over.
Q. Police arrested a man who ran onto the court with a large knife before a recent Clippers game. Was this the closest the Clippers have ever come to having someone cut down their nets? (Chris Tentoni; Greenfield, Wis.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.